“Tulsi says that one who has love for Rama should be friendly towards friends, renounce enmity with enemies, and be easy-going, simple in nature, quiet, and equally disposed towards all.“ (Dohavali, 93)
हित स्ॐ हित, रति राम स्ॐ, रिपु स्ॐ बैर बिहाउ |
उदासीन सब स्ॐ सरल तुलसी सहज सुभाउ ||
hita soṃ hita, rati rāma soṃ, ripu soṃ baira bihāu |
udāsīna saba soṃ sarala tulasī sahaja subhāu ||
“I know that certain spiritual traditions tend to focus on forgiveness. They will have lengthy discussions on it; perhaps even a multi-part series with a guest-lecturer. A seminar of sorts; the idea is to help people learn to let go. Forgive and forget.
“Of course, in this land of duality it is easy to find fault with such a policy. The quickest way to have peace with an aggressor nation is to give up. Let them occupy whichever land they seek. Allow them to invade territories without opposition. If people become upset at the lack of protection offered by the government, lecture them on the need to forgive. Extend amnesty to the invaders, who have no loyalty to the nation they illegally entered.
“Getting back to the original issue, you do find people who hold on to grudges for a long time. They were wronged during childhood. Someone embarrassed them in front of a large crowd. An adult punished them unfairly. Someone spoke harshly to them.
“I have been guilty of the same practice on many occasions. I am sure you run into such people. They keep talking about the same incident. They never let go of these so-called offenses. Many of the events sound traumatizing enough, and it seems too simplistic to just tell people to forgive.
“What is a better way? I know you feel that shastra has the answer to every question, a proper response to every inquiry, but even from reading texts like the Ramayana you have unbelievable acts of aggression and offense. As an example, how did someone like Sita Devi forgive the royal family in Ayodhya for what happened to her husband, Shri Rama?”
The basis for genuine forgiveness, for a kind and compassionate disposition, is intelligence. As to err is human, everyone commits mistakes. This is one of the four principal defects to conditioned living. Upon falling into the land of birth and death, the guaranteed end, the reset to the cycle of reincarnation, so to speak, must be effected by some sort of blemish.
The living being in the conditioned state, jiva, has imperfect senses, is easily illusioned, commits mistakes, and has the tendency to cheat. No person is immune from these defects, as they are components to the realm itself.
If I know that I am not perfect, it stands to reason that others are the same way. Have I never mistakenly taken to aggression, only to regret it later on? Have I never mischaracterized someone, maligning them for something they never did? Have I never acted irrationally, losing my good sense from having a strong attachment to a particular outcome?
क्रोधाद् भवति सम्मोहः
krodhād bhavati sammohaḥ
“From anger, delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost, one falls down again into the material pool.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.63)
If these things happen to me, they happen to others. Others are just as vulnerable to the conditions of the material world. We hope that everyone eventually learns how to maintain sobriety, to keep a level head, but even after apologizing there is every chance of committing mistakes again.
The spirit of forgiveness also descends from the Almighty, in whose image we are all made. Whatever the exact spiritual tradition followed, there is the acknowledgment of returning to the higher realm, of once again connecting with the Supreme Divine Being.
The end condition automatically implies that there is a beginning condition which is the opposite in nature. For instance, if my goal is to reach the finish line in a race, it must mean that I start somewhere else. If I want to get a good night’s sleep to be properly rested for tomorrow, at the moment I am in a potential state, ready to begin the journey.
If at some point in time I was not connected with God, it means that I have committed a grave offense. If He is willing to take me back, it means that He is the most forgiving person. As He explains to Arjuna in Bhagavad-gita, He is able to remember every previous birth.
बहूनि मे व्यतीतानि
जन्मानि तव चार्जुन
तान्य् अहं वेद सर्वाणि
न त्वं वेत्थ परन्तप
bahūni me vyatītāni
janmāni tava cārjuna
tāny ahaṁ veda sarvāṇi
na tvaṁ vettha parantapa
“The Blessed Lord said: Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot, O subduer of the enemy!” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.5)
God has the most forgiving nature, and this extends to the saintly people who are devoted to Him. Goswami Tulsidas advises that someone who dearly loves Shri Rama, the husband of Sita, should also be forgiving of enemies. They should not hold onto a grudge, because extended enmity does not serve a higher purpose.
The entire universe is under the control of the energies sourced in the grand coordinator. If we are fortunate to find the devotional life, we come under the control of the superior illusion, known as yogamaya.
Shri Rama directly controls this energy, placing His devotees into the proper conditions at the appropriate times. There is a direct relationship with Him, known as yoga, and there is nothing an outside party can do to interfere. Therefore, there is no reason to hold onto enmity. The devoted soul is always pleased to be in the good graces of the son of Dasharatha, who is forgiveness personified.
Supreme forgiveness to show,
So why not enmity forego?
Others by illusion swayed,
Myself too by maya played.
So with understanding deep,
A calm disposition to keep.
That somehow Rama ready to accept,
If only scant devotion to detect.